Menzies Art Brands

LLOYD REES A Song to Creation – Land


Lloyd Rees, A Song to Creation – Land, 1969

Lloyd Rees’s A Song to Creation - Land of 1969, belongs to an important series of just three works based upon the same theme: an extolling pictorial hymn to Nature, centering upon the Land (the present work), the Sea and the Sky. The aesthetic sources of this series may be found in a canticle, or hymn of praise, common to the Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran Faiths Benedicite, Omnia opera (A Song of Creation) based upon the book of Daniel (Dan. 3, 57-88/56) and Psalm 150. Viewed in this wider context Rees’s painting takes on an additional meaning: the painting’s effulgent atmosphere aims to convey the inclusive importance of everything in the pictorial scene – the trees, mountains, earth, water, sky and the place of human domicile – all is captured in an evenhanded emphasis that stresses charmed interconnectedness. No feature is treated more lavishly or painted more prominently and no aspect is made a feature in the lyrical flow of Rees’s picture plane – the centre, corners and sides – all are caught by the same democratic pantheistical visuality. Overall, the painting gives off a sense of Walt Whitman’s view of existence, where everything equally is a miracle of Nature.

Rees was aware of the importance of the present painting and the series to which it belonged. Furthermore, the present painting belongs to the same high-point period as Rees’s masterwork paintings such as The Timeless Land and Australian Façade, both of 1965, together with his Tribute to France and Country II (Beziers) of 1969, both in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The Sydney-based art historian Renée Free, in her monograph on the artist, sees the period as the artist’s apogee. A Song to Creation – Land was included as (catalogue no.99) in the official Lloyd Rees Retrospective curated by the Art Gallery of New South Wales that toured nationally from Sydney to the State Galleries in Brisbane, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide and Perth as well as the Newcastle Region Art Gallery from 2 October 1969 to 31 August 1970. The retrospective exhibition was a resounding success that topped off a halcyon period. Rees was celebrated as a national figure whose life spanned most of the Twentieth Century and his paintings came to be greatly admired.

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